Dealing with BDMs from lenders is a core part of the job for intermediaries, from discussing product changes and individual cases to clarifying aspects of the lender’s criteria.
But intermediaries have emphasised that the standard of support on offer is incredibly variable, and outlined some of the ways that good BDMs can really make a difference.
Accuracy builds trust
David Sheppard, managing director of Perception Finance, said the “absolute must” for a BDM is accuracy of information, noting that as an industry “we thrive and succeed based on all parties being open and correct with the information being provided”.
He continued: “I have had multiple incidences of inaccuracies from BDMs and as a result I have been unable to trust them again with any future questions.
“I would much rather a BDM is honest and says they are unsure of the answer without checking than to blindly say yes or no to something in error.”
Leave us alone when we don’t need you
Andy Wilson (pictured), director of Andy Wilson Financial Services, said that it was key for BDMs to be available when intermediaries need them, but to “largely leave us alone when we don’t”, meaning no pestering with product updates and general news.
He added: “We realise that their offering is the centre of their universe, but it is for every other BDM too, and we don’t want to be swamped.”
Distance doesn’t help
Sheppard argued that lenders who offer both field and telephone-based BDMs have an advantage, as they can cover for holidays, share workloads and ensure that advisers get the answers needed promptly and accurately.
But he added that lenders who have moved to solely telephone-based BDMs may be missing a trick, as there are advantages to local field-based people, not only because they understand the area but they can also do more than simply answer adviser questions.
“All lenders should be equally as interested in business volumes as much as the quality of the broker firms they are dealing with and I am not convinced that a distance relationship can cover off the latter in full,” he concluded.
Wilson agreed that lenders who offer both provide an “extra valuable resource for queries”, though acknowledged that with his office in a fairly remote location, the firm does not get to see many BDMs face-to-face.
“Many have visit quotas to fill, and travelling off the beaten track to see us uses lots of their time. While they are always welcome, we get more value from the better telephone-based BDM support people,” he continued.
A last resort
Jane King, mortgage adviser at Ash Ridge, suggested that she rarely gets “the luxury” of a BDM because lenders perceive her as a small firm.
As a result, other than the odd visit when a new BDM comes into the area, she tends to only deal with telephone support, adding: “I have noticed over time that they really have very little authority to do anything other than provide information.”
King argued that when she has really needed some support, such as appealing valuations or chasing up on overdue applications, too often these BDMs “don’t really seem interested in helping or lack the knowledge to do so”.
She continued: “They also seem to change very frequently and tend to move from one lender to another. I just don’t really bother with them unless I need a case update and have no choice but to contact them.”
The strength of a good telephone-based BDM
However, Wilson noted that telephone-based BDMs are often easier to get through to than field-based ones, and tend to respond to issues more quickly.
He added: “It is also beneficial to have one point of contact who we can get to know, albeit by voice only, and who can get to understand us as brokers.
“Some relationships are particularly strong, including those with the Nationwide, Leeds Building Society and HSBC Bank. BDMs there add value to their lender offering and can help the placement of tricky or difficult cases.”